I went into the EB this year knowing I wouldn’t finish it, as I had a prior commitment that required I leave around 2. I thought about starting early, but ended up starting with everyone else.
We started at Walnut at about 6:40, and rode through. The creek crossing was interesting, and I managed to avoid getting my feet wet, as I really didn’t want to deal with soggy shoes for the next 8 hours. The ride down to BCGB seemed more chaotic than usual, maybe due to numbers. I’m pretty sure we pissed off at least a few drivers. One roadie also seemed annoyed, saying “Nice single file”. I’d like to see him try to get 120 people in a single file line. I think if it’s any bigger next year, it might be a good idea to consider starting with 2 groups about 5 minutes apart. I’m not racing to beat anyone, so I’d be fine starting in the 2nd group. One of my friends that was doing the ride for his first year caught back up to me right before BCGB and we ended up riding the rest of the way together until I had to leave. Company makes the ride much nicer. As they say, misery loves company.
BCGB was drier than I expected, and the only part I wasn’t sure on was getting around the washed out bridge, but it was fine. The route was pretty easy with the re-route (MUCH easier than last year), but I think it was necessary due to the water/conditions. Jedi was …interesting. After riding through the mud at the top, it was sort of like riding on slicks for a bit, and I took it quite a bit easier than I otherwise would have. Mulch Hill was much nicer in the down direction this year. After a quick break to get across the creek/eat something, we headed up Hill of Life. I walked some of the ledge sections to conserve energy for later, which helped, I think. The rest stop at the top was an awesome bonus, especially since it was unexpected. That cut out a stop later on to restock on water.
I always hate the next section – 360-Courtyard-CP. I ride it on my road bike occasionally and it just seems a good bit harder on the mtn bike, even with lower gearing. We set a pretty casual pace, and met a few other riders (2 of them on SS – ouch). Courtyard wasn’t too bad, and I was definitely (not) feeling the shorter ride on the GB. City Park is always a bit scary with the corners, no real shoulders, and cars going by. I saw several riders heading out as I was heading in. We got to CP and took in some food/water – thanks again to the awesome Trail Angels. My riding buddy had only done CP once or twice, and his wife joined us, who hadn’t done the main loop before. We took it pretty easy throughout, walking some of the uphills, and stopping to show lines on the downhills. Overall, a nice ride, finishing there in about an hour and 10, and only cursing a few times for having to do the extra credit section.
Jester sucked, as usual. I rode the whole thing, and was feeling surprisingly fresh. There was some leg burning, but not too much. I rode past someone walking up, and we both agreed that the hill does suck. After that, it was off to St Ed’s. I was getting a bit worried about my buddy at this point – he was lagging behind a bit even with me slowing my pace some. I knew I needed to leave to ride home. I split off there, and he took a bit to regroup, then finished up St Ed’s, Thumper, and Walnut to finish it. I was happy he made it – his longest ride to date by about 35 miles. I wish I could have finished this year, especially since I was still feeling good at St Ed’s. There’s always next year though.
I was sort of glad the day after, because I still had the legs to go out and put in 1.5 laps at CP on Pivot test bikes, which was awesome. Quite a bit of difference having ridden it the day before. 150+ travel 650B bikes made CP fairly easy – I was picking rough lines and still floating through.